Enrique Vila-Matas wrote a fictionalised biography of his younger (somewhat exaggerated) self in Paris, Never Any End to Paris, in which he tried hard to emulate his hero Ernest Hemingway, to be poor and happy, to learn to write, to see the world in the light of his master. Instead, he was poor, desperately unhappy, and the paucity of his achievement was laid bare when he met Javier Grandes at a bar, who merrily said he was slow off the mark becoming a writer.
What I mean is you're slow compared to Boris Vian. At your age, he was already nearly dead, but he'd written about five hundred songs, three hundred poems, I don't know how many novels, fifty stage plays, eight operas, one and a half thousand music reviews. And that's not all, he used and abused the trumpet. And he was a great nighthawk, who used to flit from the Bar Vert to La Rhumerie Martiniquaise, from Tabou to Petit Saint-Benoit, from Trois Canettes to Vieux Colombier daily. Two marriages, I don't know how many kids, an engineering degree, thousands of conversations with the waiters at the Balzar, a thousand transgressions, he wore out the needles on the record players at the local rich kids' bashes, and well, anyway, I don't need to tell you.
Who could handle such frankness? Enrique was crushed, "practically destroyed, as if I'd lost a thousand games of pinball."
|Cave Tabou, Paris|
|Greco and Cazalis|
La Rhumerie Martiniquaise was another existentialist and jazz haunt in St Germain-des-Prés. Besides Vian, the likes of Georges Bataille, Henri Salvador, Antonin Artaud, Marcel Aymé, Man Ray, Aimé Césaire were to be found here. If high intellectualism was not your thing, you could splurge on the finest Antillean rums here.
|La Rhumerie Martiniquaise in 1955.|